In advance of the Fourth of July, we’ve got a few selections of spirits, beers, and wines that top our list of refreshing, Texas-made adult beverages.
Austin Beerworks Pearl Snap
We could just be enamored with the quippy name and lime-green can, but it doesn’t hurt that this German-style pilsner has a taste befitting its name: a bright, snappy flavor with a hint of hoppiness and a crisp, refreshing finish. Made by Austin-based craft brewery Austin Beerworks, this beer bridges the gap between the serious beer drinker and the person who just wants something cold and bubbly to sip by the pool. Unfortunately you can really only find this in the Austin area, something hopefully this small-production brewery will remedy as it grows.
An easy, more widely distributed second place holder for refreshing summer beers is Shiner Premium. Not exactly new to the Shiner family of beers, the Premium label was actually the first release from the Spoetzl Brewery in Shiner, Texas, that was fairly popular as an “underdog” beer in the seventies. But with a number of iterations in name and label design—from “Texas Special” to “Shiner Blonde”—the more ubiquitous typically Shiner Bock overshadows this classic Czech-style lager that is a nice accompaniment to any lake or river trip.
Duchman Family Vineyards Vermentino 2011
When the summer heat is on, even red-wine drinkers switch to white. If you like something crisp and dry with brisk acidity that invokes a little electricity, pick up the Duchman Family Vineyards Vermentino. With lemon peel and fresh white flowers on the nose, you’ll find the citrus tones continue on the palate with a beautiful clean finish. Sip this on its own, or enjoy it with grilled Gulf shrimp or redfish.
Wedding Oak Winery Bridal Veil 2011
Those who prefer a hint of sweetness to their summer whites should check out the Bridal Veil from San Saba’s Wedding Oak Winery. With only about .6 percent residual sugar from a blend of Vermentino and Trebbiano grapes, this wine crafted by Penny Adams offers notes of orange blossom and lime zest on the nose. You’ll catch the faint hint of sweetness on the mid-palette but find this delicate wine ends with a balanced, bone-dry finish.
Deep Eddy Ruby Red Vodka
Many are already familiar with Deep Eddy Vodka and it’s sweet and summery (and dangerously sneaky) companion, Deep Eddy Sweet Tea Vodka, but this year, Deep Eddy has added a third spirit to the lineup using the tangy juiciness of Ruby Red grapefruits from the Valley. It’s the perfect answer to those who don’t like their summer cocktails too sweet. While you’ll certainly taste a hint of sugar, the concentrated infusion of Texas grapefruit adds a balanced tartness to this vodka. You can play with variations on different cocktails, but we suggest keeping it simple with 3 parts Ruby and 1 part soda with a twist of lime.
Tipsy Texan Cocktail Recipes
Texas’s own cocktail guru David Alan recently released a comprehensive guide to craft cocktails from the Lone Star State, which gives a big nod to the growing family of Texas-made spirits. Tipsy Texan, which takes its title from Alan’s nickname, is full of light and refreshing, big and boozy, and sweet and creamy cocktails. Two of our favorites for summer:
Texas Mai Tai
1 ounce Treaty Oak Platinum Rum
1 ounce Treaty Oak Antique Rum
1/2 ounce Paula’s Texas Orange
3/4 ounce Orgeat (an almond-flavored liqueur)
Combine the rums, Paula’s Texas Orange, orgeat, and lime juice in a micing glass and shake vigoursly with ice to chill. Strain into an Old Fashioned glass filled with crushed ice. Garnish abundantly with the mint and the lime wedge. A sugarcane stick or orchid would be an especially extravagant touch, and extravagent touches are de rigueur with tiki drinks.
Hill Country Collins
A summery spin on the classic Tom Collins, this little number has a playful addition of fresh Hill Country peaches and lavender. Try it with the newly released Genius Gin for the perfect balance.
1 small or 1/2 large ripe peach, cut into chunks
1/2 ounce Simple Syrup
2 sprigs fresh lavender
1 1/2 ounces Texas gin
3/4 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
1-2 ounces carbonated water
In the bottom of a mixing glass, muddle the peach, simple syrup, and one lavender sprig. You may need to adjust the amount of syrup depending on the sweetness of your peach. Add the gin and lemon juice. Shake vigorously with ice to chill, and strain onto fresh ice in a Collins glass. Top with the carbonated water and garnish with the remaining lavender sprig.
Recipes excerpted from Tipsy Texan: Spirits and Cocktails from the Lone Star State by David Alan (Copyright © 2013 by David Alan) Used by permission of Andrews McMeel Publishing, LLC.